March 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm

SXSW: AiR Guitar Lets You Rock Out with your Webcam

Legions of companies are preparing to show off their music apps and other technologies when the exhibit floor opens at SXSW Interactive on Monday, but already, a handful stand out from the pack. AiR Guitar, one of eight music finalists in the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator, a months-long app contest with the final judging on Wednesday, makes an unlikely pairing out of air guitar and augmented reality — thus “AiR Guitar.”

To play, you must first don a T-shirt with an image of a guitar on it — or tape a printout of this guitar (.pdf) to your torso. Then fire up playairguitar.com, stand in front of your webcam, and follow the chord symbol from left to right. When it reaches the right side of the stream, strum your air guitar; if you’re on time, it’ll make a sound — sort of like Guitar Hero, except there’s no guitar.

The system relies on your webcam to understand when you’re strumming, which makes video recording a natural extra feature. You can choose to record your AiR Guitar performance, after which the app offers a link and embed code so you can share it with your friends.

There’s only one song for AiR Guitar so far, from Wales’ The Last Republic, but the opportunity clearly exists for more bands to launch their own AiR Guitar songs. Instead of selling a regular band T-shirt, they might follow The Last Republic’s example by putting a guitar on the shirt, giving their fans a (very) different way to play their music.